The Childhood and Adolescent Lymphoma Cell Therapy Consortium, of which Baylor College of Medicine is a primary site, received a $998,132 grant from the St. Baldrick's Foundation.

The consortium brings together eight multidisciplinary academic centers from around the United States to facilitate targeted, cell-based translational research in poor-risk and rare lymphomas. Lymphoma is the most common cancer in adolescents and young adults between 15 and 30 years old and the third most common cancer in children under the age of 15.

T-cell therapies offer promise

"One of the major problems that we face as pediatric lymphoma doctors is the unacceptable late effects (second cancers, heart disease) from chemotherapy and radiotherapy," said Dr. Catherine Bollard, associate professor of pediatrics – hematology/oncology at BCM. "Therefore, it is important to develop novel therapies that target only the cancer cells and not bystander organs. T-cell therapies offer such a promise, and this generous award from St. Baldrick's will help move T-cell therapies into the multicenter setting and beyond phase I studies for the treatment of pediatric lymphoma."

The Center for Cell and Gene Therapy at Baylor College of Medicine will lead the research on behalf of all participating institutions, along with New York Medical College and Maria Fareri Children's Hospital. Bollard, who is also director of the Pediatric Lymphoma Program at the Texas Children's Cancer Center and the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy, will direct the research and trial efforts for BCM.

Consortium members

The institutes in the consortium include New York Medical College, City of Hope in California, Johns Hopkins University, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, Ohio State University, University of Michigan, and University of Utah.

St. Baldrick's Foundation is a volunteer-driven charity dedicated to raising money for childhood cancer research. The consortium grant is part of more than $21 million in new grants awarded by the St. Baldrick's Foundation in 2011. All funding applications were peer-reviewed by leading pediatric cancer researchers who volunteer their time and expertise and make funding recommendations to the St. Baldrick's Foundation's board of directors.